INTRODUCTION TO BOOK III
The third book of the Sutras is the Book of Spiritual Powers. In
considering these spiritual powers, two things must be understood and
kept in memory. The first of these is this: These spiritual powers can
only be gained when the development described in the first and second
books has been measurably attained; when the Commandments have
been kept, the Rules faithfully followed, and the experiences which are
described have been passed through. For only after this is the spiritual
man so far grown, so far disentangled from the psychical bandages
and veils which have confined and blinded him, that he can use his
proper powers and faculties. For this is the secret of all spiritual
powers: they are in no sense an abnormal or supernatural overgrowth
upon the material man, but are rather the powers and faculties inherent
in the spiritual man, entirely natural to him, and coming naturally into
activity, as the spiritual man is disentangled and liberated from
psychical bondage, through keeping the Commandments and Rules
already set forth.
As the personal man is the limitation and inversion of the spiritual
man, all his faculties and powers are inversions of the powers of the
spiritual man. In a single phrase, his self seeking is the inversion of the
Self-seeking which is the very being of the spiritual man: the ceaseless
search after the divine and august Self of all beings. This inversion is
corrected by keeping the Commandments and Rules, and gradually,
as the inversion is overcome, the spiritual man is extricated, and
comes into possession and free exercise of his powers. The spiritual
powers, therefore, are the powers of the grown and liberated spiritual
man. They can only be developed and used as the spiritual man grows
and attains liberation through obedience. This is the first thing to be
kept in mind, in all that is said of spiritual powers in the third and
fourth books of the Sutras. The second thing to be understood and
kept in mind is this:
Just as our modern sages have discerned and taught that all matter is
ultimately one and eternal, definitely related throughout the whole
wide universe; just as they have discerned and taught that all force is
one and eternal, so coordinated throughout the whole universe that
whatever affects any atom measurably affects the whole boundless
realm of matter and force, to the most distant star or nebula on the
dim confines of space; so the ancient sages had discerned and taught
that all consciousness is one, immortal, indivisible, infinite; so finely
correlated and continuous that whatever is perceived by any
consciousness is, whether actually or potentially, within the reach of
all consciousness, and therefore within the reach of any consciousness.
This has been well expressed by saying that all souls are fundamentally
one with the Oversoul; that the Son of God, and all Sons of God, are
fundamentally one with the Father. When the consciousness is cleared
of psychic bonds and veils, when the spiritual man is able to stand, to
see, then this superb law comes into effect: whatever is within the
knowledge of any consciousness, and this includes the whole infinite
universe, is within his reach, and may, if he wills, be made a part of his
consciousness. This he may attain through his fundamental unity with
the Oversoul, by raising himself toward the consciousness above him,
and drawing on its resources. The Son, if he would work miracles,
whether of perception or of action, must come often into the presence
of the Father. This is the birthright of the spiritual man; through it he
comes into possession of his splendid and immortal powers. Let it be
clearly kept in mind that what is here to be related of the spiritual man,
and his exalted powers, must in no wise be detached from what has
gone before. The being, the very inception, of the spiritual man
depends on the purification and moral attainment already detailed, and
can in no wise dispense with these or curtail them.
Let no one imagine that the true life, the true powers of the spiritual
man, can be attained by any way except the hard way of sacrifice, of
trial, of renunciation, of selfless self-conquest and genuine devotion to
the weal of all others. Only thus can the golden gates be reached and
entered. Only thus can we attain to that pure world wherein the
spiritual man lives, and moves, and has his being. Nothing impure,
nothing unholy can ever cross that threshold, least of all impure
motives or self seeking desires. These must be burnt away before an
entrance to that world can be gained.
But where there is light, there is shadow; and the lofty light of the soul
casts upon the clouds of the mid-world the shadow of the spiritual
man and of his powers; the bastard vesture and the bastard powers of
psychism are easily attained; yet, even when attained, they are a
delusion, the very essence of unreality.
Therefore ponder well the earlier rules, and lay a firm foundation of
courage, sacrifice, selflessness, holiness.
1. The binding of the perceiving consciousness to a certain region is
Emerson quotes Sir Isaac Newton as saying that he made his great
discoveries by intending his mind on them. That is what is meant here.
I read the page of a book while inking of something else. At the end
of he page, I have no idea of what it is about, and read it again, still
thinking of something else, with the same result. Then I wake up, so
to speak, make an effort of attention, fix my thought on what I am
reading, and easily take in its meaning. The act of will, the effort of
attention, the intending of the mind on each word and line of the page,
just as the eyes are focussed on each word and line, is the power here
contemplated. It is the power to focus the consciousness on a given
spot, and hold it there Attention is the first and indispensable step in
all knowledge. Atten. tion to spiritual things is the first step to
2. A prolonged holding of the perceiving consciousness in that region
is meditation (dhyana).
This will apply equally to outer and inner things. I may for a moment
fix my attention on some visible object, in a single penetrating glance,
or I may hold the attention fixedly on it until it reveals far more of its
nature than a single glance could perceive. The first is the focussing
of the searchlight of consciousness upon the object. The other is the
holding of the white beam of light steadily and persistently on the
object, until it yields up the secret of its details. So for things within;
one may fix the inner glance for a moment on spiritual things, or one
may hold the consciousness steadily upon them, until what was in the
dark slowly comes forth into the light, and yields up its immortal
secret. But this is possible only for the spiritual man, after the
Commandments and the Rules have been kept; for until this is done,
the thronging storms of psychical thoughts dissipate and distract the
attention, so that it will not remain fixed on spiritual things. The cares
of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word of the
3. When the perceiving consciousness in this meditative is wholly
given to illuminating the essential meaning of the object contemplated,
and is freed from the sense of separateness and personality, this is
Let us review the steps so far taken. First, the beam of perceiving
consciousness is focussed on a certain region or subject, through the
effort of attention. Then this attending consciousness is held on its
object. Third, there is the ardent will to know its meaning, to illumine
it with comprehending thought. Fourth, all personal bias - all desire
merely to indorse a previous opinion and so prove oneself right, and
all desire for personal profit or gratification must be quite put away.
There must be a purely disinterested love of truth for its own sake.
Thus is the perceiving consciousness made void, as it were, of all
personality or sense of separateness. The personal limitation stands
aside and lets the All-consciousness come to bear upon the problem.
The Oversoul bends its ray upon the object, and illumines it with pure
4. When these three, Attention, Meditation Contemplation, are
exercised at once, this is perfectly concentrated Meditation (sanyama).
When the personal limitation of the perceiving consciousness stands
aside, and allows the All-conscious to come to bear upon the problem,
then arises that real knowledge which is called a flash of genius; that
real knowledge which makes discoveries, and without which no
discovery can be made, however painstaking the effort. For genius is
the vision of the spiritual man, and that vision is a question of growth
rather than present effort; though right effort, rightly continued, will
in time infallibly lead to growth and vision. Through the power thus
to set aside personal limitation, to push aside petty concerns and
cares, and steady the whole nature and will in an ardent love of truth
and desire to know it; through the power thus to make way for the
All-consciousness, all great men make their discoveries. Newton,
watching the apple fall to the earth, was able to look beyond, to see
the subtle waves of force pulsating through apples and worlds and
suns and galaxies. and thus to perceive universal gravitation. The
Oversoul, looking through his eyes, recognized the universal force,
one of its own children. Darwin, watching the forms and motions of
plants and animals, let the same august consciousness come to bear on
them, and saw infinite growth perfected through ceaseless struggle.
He perceived the superb process of evolution, the Oversoul once more
recognizing its own. Fraunhofer, noting the dark lines in the band of
sunlight in his spectroscope, divined their identity with the bright lines
in the spectra of incandescent iron, sodium and the rest, and so saw
the oneness of substance in the worlds and suns, the unity of the
materials of the universe. Once again the Oversoul, looking with his
eyes, recognized its own. So it is with all true knowledge. But the
mind must transcend its limitations, its idiosyncrasies; there must be
purity, for to the pure in heart is the promise, that they shall see God.
5. By mastering this perf ectly concen- bated Meditation, there comes
the illumina- tion of perception.
The meaning of this is illustrated by
what has been said before. When the spiritual man is able to throw
aside the trammels of emotional and mental limitation, and to open his
eyes, he sees clearly, he attains to illuminated perception. A poet once
said that Occultism is the conscious cultivation of genius; and it is
certain that the awakened spiritual man attains to the perceptions of
genius. Genius is the vision, the power, of the spiritual man, whether
its possessor recognizes this or not. All true knowledge is of the
spiritual man. The greatest in all ages have recognized this and put
their testimony on record. The great in wisdom who have not
consciously recognized it, have ever been full of the spirit of
reverence, of selfless devotion to truth, of humility, as was Darwin;
and reverence and humility are the unconscious recognition of the
nearness of the Spirit, that Divinity which broods over us, a Master
o'er a slave.
6. This power is distributed in ascending degrees.
It is to be attained step by step. It is a question, not of miracle, but of
evolution, of growth. Newton had to master the multiplication table,
then the four rules of arithmetic, then the rudiments of algebra, before
he came to the binomial theorem. At each point, there was attention,
concentration, insight; until these were attained, no progress to the
next point was possible. So with Darwin. He had to learn the form and
use of leaf and flower, of bone and muscle; the characteristics of
genera and species; the distribution of plants and animals, before he
had in mind that nexus of knowledge on which the light of his great
idea was at last able to shine. So is it with all knowledge. So is it with
spiritual knowledge. Take the matter this way: The first subject for the
exercise of my spiritual insight is my day, with its circumstances, its
hindrances, its opportunities, its duties. I do what I can to solve it, to
fulfil its duties, to learn its lessons. I try to live my day with aspiration
and faith. That is the first step. By doing this, I gather a harvest for the
evening, I gain a deeper insight into life, in virtue of which I begin the
next day with a certain advantage, a certain spiritual advance and
attainment. So with all successive days. In faith and aspiration, we
pass from day to day, in growing knowledge and power, with never
more than one day to solve at a time, until all life becomes radiant and
7. This threefold power, of Attention, Meditation, Contemplation, is
more interior than the means of growth previously described.
Very naturally so; because the means of growth previously described
were concerned with the extrication of the spiritual man from psychic
bondages and veils; while this threefold power is to be exercised by
the spiritual man thus extricated and standing on his feet, viewing life
with open eyes.
8. But this triad is still exterior to the soul vision which is
unconditioned, free from the seed of mental analyses.
The reason is this: The threefold power we have been considering, the
triad of Attention, Contemplation, Meditation is, so far as we have yet
considered it, the focussing of the beam of perceiving consciousness
upon some form of manifesting being, with a view of understanding
it completely. There is a higher stage, where the beam of
consciousness is turned back upon itself, and the individual
consciousness enters into, and knows, the All consciousness. This is
a being, a being in immortality, rather than a knowing; it is free from
mental analysis or mental forms. It is not an activity of the higher
mind, even the mind of the spiritual man. It is an activity of the soul.
Had Newton risen to this higher stage, he would have known, not the
laws of motion, but that high Being, from whose Life comes eternal
motion. Had Darwin risen to this, he would have seen the Soul, whose
graduated thought and being all evolution expresses. There are,
therefore, these two perceptions: that of living things, and that of the
Life; that of the Soul's works, and that of the Soul itself.
9. One of the ascending degrees is the development of Control. First
there is the overcoming of the mind-impress of excitation. Then comes
the manifestation of the mind-impress of Control. Then the perceiving
consciousness follows after the moment of Control.
This is the development of Control. The meaning seems to be this:
Some object enters the field of observation, and at first violently
excites the mind, stirring up curiosity, fear, wonder; then the
consciousness returns upon itself, as it were, and takes the perception
firmly in hand, steadying itself, and viewing the matter calmly from
above. This steadying effort of the will upon the perceiving
consciousness is Control, and immediately upon it follows perception,
Take a trite example. Supposing one is walking in an Indian forest. A
charging elephant suddenly appears. The man is excited by
astonishment, and, perhaps, terror. But he exercises an effort of will,
perceives the situation in its true bearings, and recognizes that a
certain thing must be done; in this case, probably, that he must get out
of the way as quickly as possible.
Or a comet, unheralded, appears in the sky like a flaming sword. The
beholder is at first astonished, perhaps terror-stricken; but he takes
himself in hand, controls his thoughts, views the apparition calmly,
and finally calculates its orbit and its relation to meteor showers.
These are extreme illustrations; but with all knowledge the order of
perception is the same: first, the excitation of the mind by the new
object impressed on it; then the control of the mind from within; upon
which follows the perception of the nature of the object. Where the
eyes of the spiritual man are open, this will be a true and penetrating
spiritual perception. In some such way do our living experiences come
to us; first, with a shock of pain; then the Soul steadies itself and
controls the pain; then the spirit perceives the lesson of the event, and
its bearing upon the progressive revelation of life.
10. Through frequent repetition of this process, the mind becomes
habituated to it, and there arises an equable flow of perceiving
Control of the mind by the Soul, like control of the muscles by the
mind, comes by practice, and constant voluntary repetition.
As an example of control of the muscles by the mind, take the
ceaseless practice by which a musician gains mastery over his
instrument, or a fencer gains skill with a rapier. Innumerable small
efforts of attention will make a result which seems well-nigh
miraculous; which, for the novice, is really miraculous. Then consider
that far more wonderful instrument, the perceiving mind, played on by
that fine musician, the Soul. Here again, innumerable small efforts of
attention will accumulate into mastery, and a mastery worth winning.
For a concrete example, take the gradual conquest of each day, the
effort to live that day for the Soul. To him that is faithful unto death,
the Master gives the crown of life.
11. The gradual conquest of the mind's tendency to flit from one
object to another, and the power of one-pointedness, make the
development of Contemplation.
As an illustration of the mind's tendency to flit from one object to
another, take a small boy, learning arithmetic. He begins: two ones are
two; three ones are three-and then he thinks of three coins in his
pocket, which will purchase so much candy, in the store down the
street, next to the toy-shop, where are base-balls, marbles and so on,
-and then he comes back with a jerk, to four ones are four. So with us
also. We are seeking the meaning of our task, but the mind takes
advantage of a moment of slackened attention, and flits off from one
frivolous detail to another, till we suddenly come back to
consciousness after traversing leagues of space. We must learn to
conquer this, and to go back within ourselves into the beam of
perceiving consciousness itself, which is a beam of the Oversoul. This
is the true onepointedness, the bringing of our consciousness to a
focus in the Soul.
12. When, following this, the controlled manifold tendency and the
aroused one-pointedness are equally balanced parts of the perceiving
consciousness, his the development of one-pointedness.
This would seem to mean that the insight which is called
one-pointedness has two sides, equally balanced. There is, first, the
manifold aspect of any object, the sum of all its characteristics and
properties. This is to be held firmly in the mind. Then there is the
perception of the object as a unity, as a whole, the perception of its
essence. First, the details must be clearly perceived; then the essence
must be comprehended. When the two processes are equally balanced,
the true onepointedness is attained. Everything has these two sides,
the side of difference and the side of unity; there is the individual and
there is the genus; the pole of matter and diversity, and the pole of
oneness and spirit. To see the object truly, we must see both.
13. Through this, the inherent character, distinctive marks and
conditions of being and powers, according to their development, are
By the power defined in the preceding sutra, the inherent character,
distinctive marks and conditions of beings and powers are made clear.
For through this power, as defined, we get a twofold view of each
object, seeing at once all its individual characteristics and its essential
character, species and genus; we see it in relation to itself, and in
relation to the Eternal. Thus we see a rose as that particular flower,
with its colour and scent, its peculiar fold of each petal; but we also
see in it the species, the family to which it belongs, with its relation to
all plants, to all life, to Life itself. So in any day, we see events and
circumstances; we also see in it the lesson set for the soul by the
14. Every object has its characteristics which are already quiescent,
those which are active, and those which are not yet definable.
Every object has characteristics belonging to its past, its present and
its future. In a fir tree, for example, there are the stumps or scars of
dead branches, which once represented its foremost growth; there are
the branches with their needles spread out to the air; there are the
buds at the end of each branch and twig, which carry the still closely
packed needles which are the promise of the future. In like manner,
the chrysalis has, as its past, the caterpillar; as its future, the butterfly.
The man has, in his past, the animal; in his future, the angel. Both are
visible even now in his face. So with all things, for all things change
15. Difference in stage is the cause of difference in development.
This but amplifies what has just been said. The first stage is the
sapling, the caterpillar, the animal. The second stage is the growing
tree, the chrysalis, the man. The third is the splendid pine, the
butterfly, the angel. Difference of stage is the cause of difference of
development. So it is among men, and among the races of men.
16. Through perfectly concentrated Meditation on the three stages of
development comes a knowledge of past and future.
We have taken our illustrations from natural science, because, since
every true discovery in natural science is a divination of a law in
nature, attained through a flash of genius, such discoveries really
represent acts of spiritual perception, acts of perception by the
spiritual man, even though they are generally not so recognized. So
we may once more use the same illustration. Perfectly concentrated
Meditation, perfect insight into the chrysalis, reveals the caterpillar
that it has been, the butterfly that it is destined to be. He who knows
the seed, knows the seed-pod or ear it has come from, and the plant
that is to come from it. So in like manner he who really knows today,
and the heart of to-day, knows its parent yesterday and its child
tomorrow. Past, present and future are all in the Eternal. He who
dwells in the Eternal knows all three.
17. The sound and the object and the thought called up by a word are
confounded because they are all blurred together in the mind. By
perfectly concentrated Meditation on the distinction between them,
there comes an understanding of the sounds uttered by all beings.
It must be remembered that we are speaking of perception by the
Sound, like every force, is the expression of a power of the Eternal.
Infinite shades of this power are expressed in the infinitely varied
tones of sound. He who, having entry to the consciousness of the
Eternal knows the essence of this power, can divine the meanings of
all sounds, from the voice of the insect to the music of the spheres.
In like manner, he who has attained to spiritual vision can perceive the
mind-images in the thoughts of others, with the shade of feeling which
goes with them, thus reading their thoughts as easily as he hears their
words. Every one has the germ of this power, since difference of tone
will give widely differing meanings to the same words, meanings
which are intuitively perceived by everyone.
18. When the mind-impressions become visible, there comes an
understanding of previous births.
This is simple enough if we grasp the truth of rebirth. The fine harvest
of past experi ences is drawn into the spiritual nature, forming, indeed,
the basis of its development. When the consciousness has been raised
to a point above these fine subjective impressions, and can look down
upon them from above, this will in itself be a remembering of past
19. By perfectly concentrated Meditation on mind-images is gained
the understanding of the thoughts of others.
Here, for those who can profit by it, is the secret of thought-reading.
Take the simplest case of intentional thought transference. It is the
testimony of those who have done this, that the perceiving mind must
be stilled, before the mind-image projected by the other mind can be
seen. With it comes a sense of the feeling and temper of the other
mind and so on, in higher degrees.
20. But since that on which the thought in the mind of another rests
is not objective to the thought-reader's consciousness, he perceives the
thought only, and not also that on which the thought rests.
The meaning appears to be simple: One may be able to perceive the
thoughts of some one at a distance; one cannot, by that means alone,
also perceive the external surroundings of that person, which arouse
21. By perfectly concentrated Meditation on the form of the body, by
arresting the body's perceptibility, and by inhibiting the eye's power of
sight, there comes the power to make the body invisible.
There are many instances of the exercise of this power, by mesmerists,
hypnotists and the like; and we may simply call it an instance of the
power of suggestion. Shankara tells us that by this power the popular
magicians of the East perform their wonders, working on the
mind-images of others, while remaining invisible themselves. It is all
a question of being able to see and control the mind-images.
22. The works which fill out the life-span may be either immediately
or gradually operative. By perfectly concentrated Meditation on these
comes a knowledge of the time of the end, as also through signs.
A garment which is wet, says the commentator, may be hung up to
dry, and so dry rapidly, or it may be rolled in a ball and dry slowly; so
a fire may blaze or smoulder. Thus it is with Karma, the works that fill
out the life-span. By an insight into the mental forms and forces which
make up Karma, there comes a knowledge of the rapidity or slowness
of their development, and of the time when the debt will be paid.
23. By perfectly concentrated Meditation on sympathy, compassion
and kindness, is gained the power of interior union with others.
Unity is the reality; separateness the illusion. The nearer we come to
reality, the nearer we come to unity of heart. Sympathy, compassion,
kindness are modes of this unity of heart, whereby we rejoice with
those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. These things are
learned by desiring to learn them.
24. By perfectly concentrated Meditation on power, even such power
as that of the elephant may be gained.
This is a pretty image. Elephants possess not only force, but poise and
fineness of control. They can lift a straw, a child, a tree with perfectly
judged control and effort. So the simile is a good one. By detachment,
by withdrawing into the soul's reservoir of power, we can gain all
these, force and fineness and poise; the ability to handle with equal
mastery things small and great, concrete and abstract alike.
25. By bending upon them the awakened inner light, there comes a
knowledge of things subtle, or concealed, or obscure.
As was said at the outset, each consciousness is related to all
consciousness; and, through it, has a potential consciousness of all
things; whether subtle or concealed or obscure. An understanding of
this great truth will come with practice. As one of the wise has said,
we have no conception of the power of Meditation.
26. By perf ectly concentrated Meditation on the sun comes a
knowledge of the worlds.
This has several meanings: First, by a knowledge of the constitution
of the sun, astronomers can understand the kindred nature of the stars.
And it is said that there is a finer astronomy, where the spiritual man
is the astronomer. But the sun also means the Soul, and through
knowledge of the Soul comes a knowledge of the realms of life.
27. By perfectly concentrated Meditation on the moon comes a
knowledge of the lunar mansions.
Here again are different meanings. The moon is, first, the companion
planet, which, each day, passes backward through one mansion of the
stars. By watching the moon, the boundaries of the mansion are
learned, with their succession in the great time-dial of the sky. But the
moon also symbolizes the analytic mind, with its divided realms; and
these, too, may be understood through perfectly concentrated
28. By perfectly concentrated Meditation on the fixed pole-star comes
a knowledge of the motions of the stars.
Addressing Duty, stern daughter of the Voice of God, Wordsworth
Thou cost preserve the stars from wrong,
And the most ancient heavens through thee are fresh and strong -
thus suggesting a profound relation between the moral powers and the
powers that rule the worlds. So in this Sutra the fixed polestar is the
eternal spirit about which all things move, as well as the star toward
which points the axis of the earth. Deep mysteries attend both, and the
veil of mystery is only to be raised by Meditation, by open-eyed vision
of the awakened spiritual man.
29. Perfectly concentrated Meditation on the centre of force in the
lower trunk brings an understanding of the order of the bodily powers.
We are coming to a vitally important part of the teaching of Yoga:
namely, the spiritual man's attainment of full self-consciousness, the
awakening of the spiritual man as a self-conscious individual, behind
and above the natural man. In this awakening, and in the process of
gestation which precedes it, there is a close relation with the powers
of the natural man, which are, in a certain sense, the projection,
outward and downward, of the powers of the spiritual man. This is
notably true of that creative power of the spiritual man which, when
embodied in the natural man, becomes the power of generation. Not
only is this power the cause of the continuance of the bodily race of
mankind, but further, in the individual, it is the key to the dominance
of the personal life. Rising, as it were, through the life-channels of the
body, it flushes the personality with physical force, and maintains and
colours the illusion that the physical life is the dominant and
all-important expression of life. In due time, when the spiritual man
has begun to take form, the creative force will be drawn off, and
become operative in building the body of the spiritual man, just as it
has been operative in the building of physical bodies, through
generation in the natural world.
Perfectly concentrated Meditation on the nature of this force means,
first, that rising of the consciousness into the spiritual world, already
described, which gives the one sure foothold for Meditation; and then,
from that spiritual point of vantage, not only an insight into the
creative force, in its spiritual and physical aspects, but also a gradually
attained control of this wonderful force, which will mean its direction
to the body of the spiritual man, and its gradual withdrawal from the
body of the natural man, until the over-pressure, so general and such
a fruitful source of misery in our day, is abated, and purity takes the
place of passion. This over pressure, which is the cause of so many
evils and so much of human shame, is an abnormal, not a natural,
condition. It is primarily due to spiritual blindness, to blindness
regarding the spiritual man, and ignorance even of his existence; for
by this blind ignorance are closed the channels through which, were
they open, the creative force could flow into the body of the spiritual
man, there building up an immortal vesture. There is no cure for
blindness, with its consequent over-pressure and attendant misery and
shame, but spiritual vision, spiritual aspiration, sacrifice, the new birth
from above. There is no other way to lighten the burden, to lift the
misery and shame from human life. Therefore, let us follow after
sacrifice and aspiration, let us seek the light. In this way only shall we
gain that insight into the order of the bodily powers, and that mastery
of them, which this Sutra implies.
30. By perfectly concentrated Meditation on the centre of f orce in the
well of the throat, there comes the cessation of hunger and thirst.
We are continuing the study of the bodily powers and centres of force
in their relation to the powers and forces of the spiritual man. We have
already considered the dominant power of physical life, the creative
power which secures the continuance of physical life; and, further, the
manner in which, through aspiration and sacrifice, it is gradually raised
and set to the work of upbuilding the body of the spiritual man. We
come now to the dominant psychic force, the power which manifests
itself in speech, and in virtue of which the voice may carry so much of
the personal magnetism, endowing the orator with a tongue of fire,
magical in its power to arouse and rule the emotions of his hearers.
This emotional power, this distinctively psychical force, is the cause
of "hunger and thirst," the psychical hunger and thirst for sensations,
which is the source of our two-sided life of emotionalism, with its
hopes and fears, its expectations and memories, its desires and hates.
The source of this psychical power, or, perhaps we should say, its
centre of activity in the physical body is said to be in the cavity of the
throat. Thus, in the Taittiriya Upanishad it is written: "There is this
shining ether in the inner being. Therein is the spiritual man, formed
through thought, immortal, golden. Inward, in the palate, the organ
that hangs down like a nipple,-this is the womb of Indra. And there,
where the dividing of the hair turns, extending upward to the crown
of the head."
Indra is the name given to the creative power of which we have
spoken, and which, we are told, resides in "the organ which hangs
down like a nipple, inward, in the palate."
31. By perfectly concentrated Meditation on the centre of force in the
channel called the "tortoise-formed," comes steadfastness.
We are concerned now with the centre of nervous or psychical force
below the cavity of the throat, in the chest, in which is felt the
sensation of fear; the centre, the disturbance of which sets the heart
beating miserably with dread, or which produces that sense of terror
through which the heart is said to stand still.
When the truth concerning fear is thoroughly mastered, through
spiritual insight into the immortal, fearless life, then this force is
perfectly controlled; there is no more fear, just as, through the control
of the psychic power which works through the nerve-centre in the
throat, there comes a cessation of "hunger and thirst." Thereafter,
these forces, or their spiritual prototypes, are turned to the building of
the spiritual man.
Always, it must be remembered, the victory is first a spiritual one;
only later does it bring control of the bodily powers.
32. Through perfectly concentrated Meditation on the light in the head
comes the vision of the Masters who have attained.
The tradition is, that there is a certain centre of force in the head,
perhaps the "pineal gland," which some of our Western philosophers
have supposed to be the dwelling of the soul,-a centre which is, as it
were, the door way between the natural and the spiritual man. It is the
seat of that better and wiser consciousness behind the outward
looking consciousness in the forward part of the head; that better and
wiser consciousness of "the back of the mind," which views spiritual
things, and seeks to impress the spiritual view on the outward looking
consciousness in the forward part of the head. It is the spiritual man
seeking to guide the natural man, seeking to bring the natural man to
concern himself with the things of his immortality. This is suggested
in the words of the Upanishad already quoted: "There, where the
dividing of the hair turns, extending upward to the crown of the
head"; all of which may sound very fantastical, until one comes to
It is said that when this power is fully awakened, it brings a vision of
the great Companions of the spiritual man, those who have already
attained, crossing over to the further shore of the sea of death and
rebirth. Perhaps it is to this divine sight that the Master alluded, who
is reported to have said: "I counsel you to buy of me eye-salve, that
you may see." It is of this same vision of the great Companions, the
children of light, that a seer wrote:
"Though inland far we be,
Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither,
Can in a moment travel thither,
And see the Children sport upon the shore
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore."
33. Or through the divining power of tuition he knows all things.
This is really the supplement, the spiritual side, of the Sutra just
translated. Step by step, as the better consciousness, the spiritual
view, gains force in the back of the mind, so, in the same measure, the
spiritual man is gaining the power to see: learning to open the spiritual
eyes. When the eyes are fully opened, the spiritual man beholds the
great Companions standing about him; he has begun to "know all
This divining power of intuition is the power which lies above and
behind the so-called rational mind; the rational mind formulates a
question and lays it before the intuition, which gives a real answer,
often immediately distorted by the rational mind, yet always
embodying a kernel of truth. It is by this process, through which the
rational mind brings questions to the intuition for solution, that the
truths of science are reached, the flashes of discovery and genius. But
this higher power need not work in subordination to the so-called
rational mind, it may act directly, as full illumination, "the vision and
the faculty divine."
34 By perfectly concentrated Meditation on the heart, the interior
being, comes the knowledge of consciousness.
The heart here seems to mean, as it so often. does in the Upanishads,
the interior, spiritual nature, the consciousness of the spiritual man,
which is related to the heart, and to the wisdom of the heart. By
steadily seeking after, and finding, the consciousness of the spiritual
man, by coming to consciousness as the spiritual man, a perfect
knowledge of consciousness will be attained. For the conscious ness
of the spiritual man has this divine quality: while being and remaining
a truly individual consciousness, it at the same time flows over, as it
were, and blends with the Divine Consciousness above and about it,
the consciousness of the great Companions; and by showing itself to
be one with the Divine Consciousness, it reveals the nature of all
consciousness, the secret that all consciousness is One and Divine.
35. The personal self seeks to feast on life, through a failure to
perceive the distinction between the personal self and the spiritual
man. All personal experience really exists for the sake of another:
namely, the spiritual man. By perfectly concentrated Meditation on
experience for the sake of the Self, comes a knowledge of the spiritual
The divine ray of the Higher Self, which is eternal, impersonal and
abstract, descends into life, and forms a personality, which, through
the stress and storm of life, is hammered into a definite and concrete
self-conscious individuality. The problem is, to blend these two
powers, taking the eternal and spiritual being of the first, and blending
with it, transferring into it, the self-conscious individuality of the
second; and thus bringing to life a third being, the spiritual man, who
is heir to the immortality of his father, the Higher Self, and yet has the
self-conscious, concrete individuality of his other parent, the personal
self. This is the true immaculate conception, the new birth from above,
"conceived of the Holy Spirit." Of this new birth it is said: "that which
is born of the Spirit is spirit.: ye must be born again."
Rightly understood, therefore, the whole life of the personal man is for
another, not for himself. He exists only to render his very life and all
his experience for the building up of the spiritual man. Only through
failure to see this, does he seek enjoyment for himself, seek to secure
the feasts of life for himself; not understanding that he must live for
the other, live sacrificially, offering both feasts and his very being on
the altar; giving himself as a contribution for the building of the
spiritual man. When he does understand this, and lives for the Higher
Self, setting his heart and thought on the Higher Self, then his sacrifice
bears divine fruit, the spiritual man is built up, consciousness awakes
in him, and he comes fully into being as a divine and immortal
36. Thereupon are born the divine power of intuition, and the hearing,
the touch, the vision, the taste and the power of smell of the spiritual
When, in virtue of the perpetual sacrifice of the personal man, daily
and hourly giving his life for his divine brother the spiritual man, and
through the radiance ever pouring down from the Higher Self, eternal
in the Heavens, the spiritual man comes to birth,-there awake in him
those powers whose physical counterparts we know in the personal
man. The spiritual man begins to see, to hear, to touch, to taste. And,
besides the senses of the spiritual man, there awakes his mind, that
divine counterpart of the mind of the physical man, the power of
direct and immediate knowledge, the power of spiritual intuition, of
divination. This power, as we have seen, owes its virtue to the unity,
the continuity, of consciousness, whereby whatever is known to any
consciousness, is knowable by any other consciousness. Thus the
consciousness of the spiritual man, who lives above our narrow
barriers of separateness, is in intimate touch with the consciousness of
the great Companions, and can draw on that vast reservoir for all real
needs. Thus arises within the spiritual man that certain knowledge
which is called intuition, divination, illumination.
37. These powers stand in contradistinction to the highest spiritual
vision. In mani- festation they are called magical powers.
The divine man is destined to supersede the spiritual man, as the
spiritual man supersedes the natural man. Then the disciple becomes
a Master. The opened powers of tile spiritual man, spiritual vision,
hearing, and touch, stand, therefore, in contradistinction to the higher
divine power above them, and must in no wise be regarded as the end
of the way, for the path has no end, but rises ever to higher and higher
glories; the soul's growth and splendour have no limit. So that, if the
spiritual powers we have been considering are regarded as in any
sense final, they are a hindrance, a barrier to the far higher powers of
the divine man. But viewed from below, from the standpoint of
normal physical experience, they are powers truly magical; as the
powers natural to a four-dimensional being will appear magical to a
38. Through the weakening of the causes of bondage, and by learning
the method of sassing, the consciousness is transf erred to the other
In due time, after the spiritual man has been formed and grown stable
through the forces and virtues already enumerated, and after the
senses of the spiritual man have awaked, there comes the transfer of
the dominant consciousness, the sense of individu- ality, from the
physical to the spiritual man. Thereafter the physical man is felt to be
a secondary, a subordinate, an instrument through whom the spiritual
man works; and the spiritual man is felt to be the real individuality.
This is, in a sense, the attainment to full salvation and immortal life;
yet it is not the final goal or resting place, but only the beginning of
the greater way.
The means for this transfer are described as the weakening of the
causes of bondage, and an understanding of the method of passing
from the one consciousness to the other. The first may also be
described as detach meet, and comes from the conquest of the
delusion that the personal self is the real man. When that delusion
abates and is held in check, the finer consciousness of the spiritual
man begins to shine in the background of the mind. The transfer of the
sense of individuality to this finer consciousness, and thus to the
spiritual man, then becomes a matter of recollection, of attention;
primarily, a matter of taking a deeper interest in the life and doings of
the spiritual man, than in the please ures or occupations of the
personality. Therefore it is said: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures
upon earth, where moth and rust cloth corrupt, and where thieves
break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor rust cloth corrupt, and where thieves do not
break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your
heart be also."
39. Through mastery of the upward-life comes freedom from the
dangers of water, morass, and thorny places, and the power of
ascension is gained.
Here is one of the sentences, so characteristic of this author, and,
indeed, of the Eastern spirit, in which there is an obvious exterior
meaning, and, within this, a clear interior meaning, not quite so
obvious, but far more vital.
The surface meaning is, that by mastery of a certain power, called here
the upward-life, and akin to levitation, there comes the ability to walk
on water, or to pass over thorny places without wounding the feet.
But there is a deeper meaning. When we speak of the disciple's path
as a path of thorns, we use a symbol; and the same symbol is used
here. The upward-life means something more than the power, often
manifested in abnormal psychical experiences, of levitating the
physical body, or near-by physical objects. It means the strong power
of aspiration, of upward will, which first builds, and then awakes the
spiritual man, and finally transfers the conscious individuality to him;
for it is he who passes safely over the waters of death and rebirth, and
is not pierced by the thorns in the path. Therefore it is said that he
who would tread the path of power must look for a home in the air,
and afterwards in the ether.
Of the upward-life, this is written in the Katha Upanishad: "A hundred
and one are the heart's channels; of these one passes to the crown.
Going up this, he comes to the immortal." This is the power of
ascension spoken of in the Sutra.
40. By mastery of the binding-life comes radiance.
In the Upanishads, it is said that this binding-life unites the upward-life
to the downward-life, and these lives have their analogies in the "vital
breaths" in the body. The thought in the text seems to be, that, when
the personality is brought thoroughly under control of the spiritual
man, through the life-currents which bind them together, the person
ality is endowed with a new force, a strong personal magnetism, one
might call it, such as is often an appanage of genius.
But the text seems to mean more than this and to have in view the
"vesture of the colour of the sun" attributed by the Upanishads to the
spiritual man; that vesture which a disciple has thus described: "The
Lord shall change our vile body, that it may be fash toned like unto his
glorious body"; perhaps "body of radiance" would better translate the
In both these passages, the teaching seem. to be, that the body of the
full-grown spiritual man is radiant or luminous,-for those at least, who
have anointed their eyes wit! eye-salve, so that they see.
41. From perfectly concentrated Meditation on the correlation of
hearing and the ether, comes the power of spiritual hearing.
Physical sound, we are told, is carried by the air, or by water, iron, or
some mediun on the same plane of substance. But then is a finer
hearing, whose medium of transmission would seem to be the ether;
perhaps no that ether which carries light, heat and magnetic waves,
but, it may be, the far finer ether through which the power of gravity
works. For, while light or heat or magnetic waves, travelling from the
sun to the earth, take eight minutes for the journey, it is
mathematically certain that the pull of gravitation does not take as
much as eight seconds, or even the eighth of a second. The pull of
gravitation travels, it would seem "as quick as thought"; so it may well
be that, in thought transference or telepathy, the thoughts travel by the
same way, carried by the same "thought-swift" medium.
The transfer of a word by telepathy is the simplest and earliest form
of the "divine hearing" of the spiritual man; as that power grows, and
as, through perfectly concentrated Meditation, the spiritual man comes
into more complete mastery of it, he grows able to hear and clearly
distinguish the speech of the great Companions, who counsel and
comfort him on his way. They may speak to him either in wordless
thoughts, or in perfectly definite words and sentences.
42. By perfectly concentrated Meditation em the correlation of the
body with the ether, and by thinking of it as light as thistle-down, will
come the power to traverse the ether.
It has been said that he who would tread the path of power must look
for a home in the air, and afterwards in the ether. This would seem to
mean, besides the constant injunction to detachment, that he must be
prepared to inhabit first a psychic, and then an etheric body; the
former being the body of dreams; the latter, the body of the spiritual
man, when he wakes up on the other side of dreamland. The gradual
accustoming of the consciousness to its new etheric vesture, its
gradual acclimatization, so to speak, in the etheric body of the
spiritual man, is what our text seems to contemplate.
43. When that condition of consciousness s reached, which is
far-reaching and not con- fined to the body, which is outside the body
and not conditioned by it, then the veil which conceals the light is
Perhaps the best comment on this is afforded by the words of Paul: "I
knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body,
I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth
;) such a one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man,
(whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth
;) how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable
[or, unspoken] words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter."
The condition is, briefly, that of the awakened spiritual man, who sees
and hears beyond the veil.
44. Mastery of the elements comes from perfectly concentrated
Meditation on their five forms: the gross, the elemental, the subtle, the
inherent, the purposive.
These five forms are analogous to those
recognized by modern physics: solid, liquid, gaseous, radiant and
ionic. When the piercing vision of the awakened spiritual man is
directed to the forms of matter, from within, as it were, from behind
the scenes, then perfect mastery over the "beggarly elements" is
attained. This is, perhaps, equivalent to the injunction: "Inquire of the
earth, the air, and the water, of the secrets they hold for you. The
development of your inner senses will enable you to do this."
45. Thereupon will come the manifestation of the atomic and other
powers, which are the endowment of the body, together with its
The body in question is, of course, the etheric body of the spiritual
man. He is said to possess eight powers: the atomic, the power of
assimilating himself with the nature of the atom, which will, perhaps,
involve the power to disintegrate material forms; the power of
levitation; the power of limitless extension; the power of boundless
reach, so that, as the commentator says, "he can touch the moon with
the tip of his finger"; the power to accomplish his will; the power of
gravitation, the correlative of levitation; the power of command; the
power of creative will. These are the endowments of the spiritual man.
Further, the spiritual body is unassailable. Fire burns it not, water wets
it not, the sword cleaves it not, dry winds parch it not. And, it is said,
the spiritual man can impart something of this quality and temper to
his bodily vesture.
46. Shapeliness, beauty, force, the temper of the diamond: these are
the endowments of that body.
The spiritual man is shapely, beautiful strong, firm as the diamond.
Therefore it is written: "These things saith the Son of God, who hath
his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass: He
that overcometh and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I
give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron;
and I will give him the morning star."
47. Mastery over the powers of perception and action comes through
perfectly concentrated Meditation on their fivefold forms; namely,
their power to grasp their distinctive nature, the element of
self-consciousness in them, their inherence, and their purposiveness.
Take, for example, sight. This possesses, first, the power to grasp,
apprehend, perceive; second, it has its distinctive form of perception;
that is, visual perception; third, it always carries with its operations
self-consciousness, the thought: "I perceive"; fourth sight has the
power of extension through the whole field of vision, even to the
utmost star; fifth, it is used for the purposes of the Seer. So with the
other senses. Perfectly concentrated Meditation on each sense, a
viewing it from behind and within, as is possible for the spiritual man,
brings a mastery of the scope and true character of each sense, and of
the world on which they report collectively.
48. Thence comes the power swift as thought, independent of
instruments, and the mastery over matter.
We are further enumerating the endowments of the spiritual man.
Among these is the power to traverse space with the swiftness of
thought, so that whatever place the spiritual man thinks of, to that he
goes, in that place he already is. Thought has now become his means
of locomotion. He is, therefore, independent of instruments, and can
bring his force to bear directly, wherever he wills.
49. When the spiritual man is perfectly disentangled from the psychic
body, he attains to mastery over all things and to a knowledge of all.
The spiritual man is enmeshed in the web of the emotions; desire, fear,
ambition, passion; and impeded by the mental forms of separateness
and materialism. When these meshes are sundered, these obstacles
completely overcome, then the spiritual man stands forth in his own
wide world, strong, mighty, wise. He uses divine powers, with a
divine scope and energy, working together with divine Companions.
To such a one it is said: "Thou art now a disciple, able to stand, able
to hear, able to see, able to speak, thou hast conquered desire and
attained to self- knowledge, thou hast seen thy soul in its bloom and
recognized it, and heard the voice of the silence."
50. By absence of all self-indulgence at this point, when the seeds of
bondage to sorrow are destroyed, pure spiritual being is attained.
The seeking of indulgence for the personal self, whether through
passion or ambition, sows the seed of future sorrow. For this self
indulgence of the personality is a double sin against the real; a sin
against the cleanness of life, and a sin against the universal being,
which permits no exclusive particular good, since, in the real, all
spiritual possessions are held in common. This twofold sin brings its
reacting punishment, its confining bondage to sorrow. But ceasing
from self-indulgence brings purity, liberation, spiritual life.
51. There should be complete overcoming of allurement or pride in
the invitations of the different realms of life, lest attachment to things
evil arise once more.
The commentator tells us that disciples, seekers for union, are of four
degrees: first, those who are entering the path; second, those who are
in the realm of allurements; third, those who have won the victory
over matter and the senses; fourth, those who stand firm in pure
spiritual life. To the second, especially, the caution in the text is
addressed. More modern teachers would express the same truth by a
warning against the delusions and fascinations of the psychic realm,
which open around the disciple, as he breaks through into the unseen
worlds. These are the dangers of the anteroom. Safety lies in passing
on swiftly into the inner chamber. '`Him that overcometh will I make
a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out."
52. From perfectly concentrated Meditatetion on the divisions of time
and their succession comes that wisdom which is born of discernment.
The Upanishads say of the liberated that "he has passed beyond the
triad of time"; he no longer sees life as projected into past, present and
future, since these are forms of the mind; but beholds all things spread
out in the quiet light of the Eternal. This would seem to be the same
thought, and to point to that clear-eyed spiritual perception which is
above time; that wisdom born of the unveiling of Time's delusion.
Then shall the disciple live neither in the present nor the future, but in
53. Hence comes discernment between things which are of like nature,
not distinguished by difference of kind, character or position.
Here, as also in the preceding Sutra, we are close to the doctrine that
distinctions of order, time and space are creations of the mind; the
threefold prism through which the real object appears to us distorted
and refracted. When the prism is withdrawn, the object returns to its
primal unity, no longer distinguishable by the mind, yet clearly
knowable by that high power of spiritual discernment, of illumination,
which is above the mind.
54. The wisdom which is born of discerns ment is starlike; it discerns
all things, and all conditions of things, it discerns without succession:
That wisdom, that intuitive, divining power is starlike, says the
commentator, because it shines with its own light, because it rises on
high, and illumines all things. Nought is hid from it, whether things
past, things present, or things to come; for it is beyond the threefold
form of time, so that all things are spread before it together, in the
single light of the divine. This power has been beautifully described by
Columba: "Some there are, though very few, to whom Divine grace
has granted this: that they can clearly and most distinctly see, at one
and the same moment, as though under one ray of the sun, even the
entire circuit of the whole world with its surroundings of ocean and
sky, the inmost part of their mind being marvellously enlarged."
55. When the vessture and the spiritual man are alike pure, then
perfect spiritual life is attained.
The vesture, says the commentator, must first be washed pure of all
stains of passion and darkness, and the seeds of future sorrow must be
burned up utterly. Then, both the vesture and the wearer of the
vesture being alike pure, the spiritual man enters into perfect spiritual